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Spain on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Three Questions to Carlos Carnero

INTERVIEW - 26 April 2019

"There are parliamentary defeats that are social victories'' has said Pedro Sánchez, the current President of the Government as he has called for snap general elections on April 28. Pedro Sánchez arrived in power only ten months ago when a motion of no confidence was voted against the then President of the Government Mariano Rajoy and pushed him to resign after more than six years in power. These elections will bring an end to the shortest administration in modern Spain. What is to be expected of it? Carlos Carnero, Managing Director of the Fundación Alternativas, shares his analysis of the current political situation in Spain.

What are the reasons for early elections and what is the position of the PSOE?

Formally, it was the impossibility to get the approval of the State General Budgets for 2019 by the Congress of Deputies. However, after ten months of government, it seemed necessary for the voters to turn out the ballot box about the country's political future for the next four years. This was likely the most appropriate moment to do so, bearing in mind that regional elections will be held on May 26 in 12 communities (Andalusia, Catalonia, Galicia and the Basque Country manage their own calendar, and the Valencian Country will vote on the same day as the general ones), as well as the local ones in all the city councils and the European ones. Thus, in less than thirty days, the political map of Spain will be redesigned at all levels, so that it can be governed with a medium-term vision in all the institutions. Hence, it would allow them to face challenges such as the recovery from the economic crisis, the attempt of independence of Catalonia or the role of Spain in the new European political cycle with stability. The call for early general elections on April 28 has been a correct decision of the President of the Government.

What kind of campaign is to be expected and who is most likely to win the elections? Do you think that these elections have also a European dimension?

The campaign is getting particularly hard, especially for the right-wing represented by Popular Party (Partido Popular-PP) and Citizens-Party (Ciudadanos), who compete with the extreme right VOX Party. This party emerged a few months ago in Andalusia, when the two aforementioned political parties formed the Government of Andalusia with the parliamentary vote in favour of VOX Party. All the polls indicate that the winner of the elections will be the Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE), with its candidate and current President of the Government Pedro Sánchez at the head, who would obtain around 30% of the votes, followed by the Popular Party at a ten-point distance. Indeed, these elections have a European dimension for two reasons: one, if the PSOE remains in the Government, Spain will maintain a very active European policy along with Germany and France; another, for the first time since 1979 a far-right party would reach Parliament and do so with force. In such a scenario, Spain would join the EU Member States where that tendency has been growing.

The Catalan question seems to be the main source of instability in Spanish politics. What do you think and what are the positions of the different parties regarding the Catalan independence movement?

In my opinion, everyone knows that Catalonia will never be independent. All the political parties of national nature are united in that position of defending the constitutional order of the Spanish democracy. The separatist movements have failed in their attempt to impose it on half of the Catalans and on the whole of the Spaniards. The PSOE believes that the Constitution should be defended through the application of all its articles if necessary, as well as that of the courts and the search for dialogue solutions.The purpose is to convince as many citizens as possible, particularly those still supporting the independence, that a secession would be an impossible and inadequate way to deepen one of the largest highly decentralized unitary state in the world. As for the PP and Citizens, they put more emphasis on the almost permanent use of Article 155 of the Constitution, which allows for the suspension of the autonomous management of certain matters to be transferred to the Central Government in case of a serious breach of its obligations by the national or regional authorities.

Copyright : JOSEP LAGO / AFP


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